**½/**** Image B Sound A- (DD)/A+ (DTS) Extras B
starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick
screenplay by Gill Dennis & James Mangold
directed by James Mangold
by Walter Chaw I'm no longer certain what kind of currency there is in producing a biography of an iconoclast whose life is an exact simulacrum of every other iconoclast's life. Here's an entirely respectable film about Johnny Cash that begins in his childhood, proceeds into the Big Break, then segues from there into the euphoria of fame; the drug abuse and the groupies; the "Come to Jesus"; the rehabilitation; and the closing obituary. (It's like Denis Leary said about Oliver Stone's The Doors: "I'm drunk. I'm nobody. I'm drunk. I'm famous. I'm drunk. I'm fucking dead.") Though it claims not to be a hagiography, Walk the Line (like last year's Ray) featured the freshly-dead legends as advisors up until their untimely demises, a kind of personal involvement (and Cash's son John Carter is one of Walk the Line's executive producers, just as Ray Robinson Charles Jr. was for Ray) that precludes, methinks, most controversy in the telling. That's fine, I guess, this new vogue for these modern Gene Krupa Storys and Eddy Duchin Storys and Glenn Miller Storys--I mean, really, who does it hurt? But after praising the almost supernatural channelling of very public figures by talented actors, the only thing left is the drive home, a hot bath, dreamless sleep, and maybe the impulse purchase of the soundtrack at Starbucks in a couple of weeks.